In the summer of 2014, I hit a wall.
I was sitting on my bedroom floor in the middle of the night, with my laptop and a notepad, sobbing my eyes out. I was looking up and writing down the calorie-counts for as many foods as I could think of. “I can’t do this,” I choked. “I can’t feel like this, I can’t look like this, I can’t, I can’t….” Ever since I could remember, I had thought of myself as fat.
In ballet class, I was one of the little girls who developed a bit quicker than the others—so my body began filling out and forming curves while they were still straight and narrow. I quit ballet, not just because I disliked it for what it was (frilly tutus and plié’s….pfft), but also because I was embarrassed to wear a leotard. Reveal my round little thighs for all the world to see? Um, no.
When I was a bit older, a playmate asked me why I was fat, and pointed to my tummy. “If you’re so skinny, then why do you have that?” She and I stayed friends for many years, but I was soon too uncomfortable to change clothes in front of her. Even though my weight wasn’t ever perfect, and neither were my eating habits, I stayed at a pretty good weight until I hit middle school. Pudge gradually began to collect around my hips and thighs, and I developed stretch marks on my arms and legs, and cellulite.
When I was twelve, I joined a highly competitive swim team, and I was sure that the intense workouts would help me lose weight. Err, no. Sure, I built up a bit of muscle, but the prolonged exercise actually started breaking it back down, and my eating certainly wasn’t any better. One night in the lockers, while chatting with some “friends,” one of them made the snide little comment of, “No offense, but your legs go like this,” she held her fingers about a foot apart, “and then like this.” She brought her fingers down until they were pretty close together. I replied with a flippant, “Yeah, I know,” but inside I was devastated. There was the truth I had always known in my heart, but here it was, flung in my face: my butt was big.
Soon, I had had enough. I started a diet with my mom where our meals came in tiny little packets made in labs, and I was only allowed a single packet for every meal. This way of eating helped me swiftly drop some weight, but I was a growing girl—no way was this sustainable for very long! Those teeny weeny pathetic excuses for chocolate milkshakes were not satisfying in the least, and I literally counted the seconds til I could have another. I would also “cheat” on sneaking an apple or two into my room (that’s my biggest weakness: apples), or sometimes leftovers, or cheese sticks. Whatever. I soon threw this into the wind and went back to what I’d done before.
Skinny was just not worth it.
In the summer of 2014, my family and I began the massive undertaking of moving from our home state of Arizona to Texas, which was a thousand miles away.
The first thing I suffered was packing up the house.
Then my dad left us to go to Texas to start his new job.
Then I had to drop most of my school to help my mom keep our house looking like a page in a magazine.
Then one buyer dropped out, then another, then another.
In an effort to keep our kitchen completely clean, my mom and brother and I ate out almost every meal.
Between incredible stress and poor choices, my waistline expanded, and I couldn’t fit into some of my clothes anymore. My school picture from this year looked completely different from last year’s. My face had gotten so pudgy, I was barely recognizable as the same girl! I remember the photo I saw myself in, after we arrived in Texas, when I realized, “Enough is enough.” It was down at a lake with my best friend. Standing with the lake to our backs, there was my friend’s little sister, my brother, my friend and—me? I was so huge compared to everyone in that photo, and my sunglasses were not doing any slimming favors for my round face and shiny braces.
As I stared in utter revulsion at this picture, fury began to bubble up inside me. I do NOT roll over and quit. I do NOT accept how I look right now. This is IT. I didn’t deserve to hate myself every day of my life! I didn’t deserve to want to be afraid to get up and go to the bathroom in a restaurant because I was sure everyone would stare at how big I was! I would fight! And I would NOT stop until I won! I was sick and tired of the pain of being overweight. I was tired of telling myself, “I can’t.” This was such a heavy burden—God, will you carry it for me? Give me strength!
After a few months of pondering what I should do to help myself lose weight, I knew calorie-counting was ridiculous. Who had time for that? It sounded exhausting and starvationy, and even “I-Of-Little-Knowledge” knew at least that very few calories every meal was not a good way to eat all the time. I was also not going to do a commercial diet, or paleo, or low-carbing again (I had tried a few things by now, ahem….). None of these diets did anything for my gosh-darned sweet tooth.
Then, one morning in July, a package arrived at our door. It’s always fun when a package arrives in the mail here at my house. So I scurried out of my room and leaned over my mom’s shoulder as she opened the box—it was the perfect size for a book. A good book, I hoped— Out came a thick white instruction manual type thing with photos of two pretty, smiling ladies on the cover.
“Um, what’s that?” I asked carefully.
“Oh!” My mom said excitedly, “It’s a book for a new diet that someone recommended to me! Here, let’s sit down and read it together.”
The book, Trim Healthy Mama, has changed my life. Not only helped me lose a TON of weight (45 pounds and counting….only a few pounds from my goal!), it’s also helped me develop healthy habits, educated me on how calories are only part of the story, and given me a deep appreciation for all of the wonderful, healing foods God has given to us. Literally, nothing that He himself has made is bad for us.
I’m not here to sell you this eating plan. Heck, I don’t even care if you just barely skimmed this article. I don’t care if a completely different way of eating is what you prefer, but just listen to me on this one point:
Being skinny has not made me happy.
I know, right? Nuts! But guys…..truly, being skinny is only a bonus. (Though, Lord knows I am NOT one of those skinny little waifs you see in magazines. I come from a long line of “sturdy” women.) For me, the biggest things I’ve gained are my confidence, knowledge about what I’m putting in my mouth, and the ability to get up and move around like crazy. I actually love to exercise now! Weird, I know. But before, it was a struggle to just walk from the car to the entrance of a restaurant or a friend’s house, and I hated that.
Do you want to know what was really tying me down all that time? It sure as heck wasn’t just my weight. It was the Enemy using my weight and my perception of myself as a tool to squelch me into a sniveling, helpless little creature. He wanted to see me miserable. He hated—no, hates my guts. He hates that my family is tight. He hates that I’m educated. He hates that my heart has been sold completely to God and I would die for His Son.
Well, here I am, to tell you I’m free now. The Enemy can’t touch me. I’m done with him. God wanted me to be free. He knew I was hurting, and that I hated to even glance in the mirror. He cared. To this day, I honestly have no idea who recommended Trim Healthy Mama to my mother. I don’t know where she bought it from, or what spurred her to buy it. And…I don’t think I want to know. I like a little mystery.
I want to say something to all the beautiful girls who are reading this. If you struggle with your weight, I want you to know, that it isn’t really your extra fluff that’s making you unhappy.
It’s the way you see yourself.
It’s the way you tell yourself you can’t do anything about your tummy.
It’s the way you feel helpless, and angry, and ugly.
Losing weight did not make me happy!
What actually made me happy was being free from the staggering, agonizing burden of hating who I was. Throwing down that burden was hard. It still threatens to come back sometimes. Think about it! If you are so consumed with hating yourself, then….how can you possibly be able to love God? To love others? Let me encourage you: You can do anything. You can do anything you set out to do, and if God wills it, He’ll bless it.
Please, on behalf of our Father….love yourself. Because I love you, and so does He.
Written by Olivia Grace